January 17, 2018
IT’S ALL IN THE QUALITATIVE DETAILS
Mother Nature nearly sabotaged rehearsal today. The bad weather resulted in a delayed opening for Edgar and Eliza’s preschool and cancellation of their after-school child care. Disappointed – and somewhat panicked – over the prospect of another lost rehearsal, Jonathan frantically tried to make alternate arrangements. Although he was not successful, he calmed down when he realized he could still get in 30 minutes of concentrated rehearsal time. If he was focused—and the dancers were ready – and the children in the room would allow it – he could get a lot done.
It was definitely worth it!
Lorena and Mandy arrive first and are all warmed up by the time Jonathan walks through the door. The trio are ready to focus completely on Jonathan’s duet. Fortunately, Sebastian plays independently during this time, briefly interrupting only twice to solicit mom’s help with toy repair.
Jonathan begins his notes. His goal for the piece is to have his characters’ movements in, around, or relating to the center of the stage. Jonathan wants to give the center special importance, a “gravitational pull.” It is a metaphor for external and internal forces affecting the characters’ relationships. It is also an aesthetic choice, clarifying design elements of the dance and a means of focusing the audience’s attention. Jonathan says, “I always want to know where the center of gravity is in my works.”
Lorena and Mandy slowly mark through the piece, talking it through with Jonathan moment-by-moment. True to his intention, Jonathan continually clarifies spacing. He also feels free to change various choreographic details to create more elegant, sophisticated movement. He has been waiting for the “right moment to bring it up;” since much of Second Story’s limited rehearsal time is spent reviewing material, adding changes into the mix has felt premature. Jonathan is excited that the time is now right.
To elicit more emotion and enhance beauty and visual interest, Jonathan makes several adjustments: Mandy executes a fan kick while lying on the floor in one of the opening poses…in a moment where both Mandy and Lorena pause in their respective poses, Mandy now assumes an arabesque position while moving her head and hand against her lifted leg…Lorena’ s balletic turns during a solo section now feature upper body arches and curves, giving these movements a “low, dripping quality.” Tweaking these qualitative details enables Jonathan to elicit more robust character portrayals.
The dancers come to the end of the duet just as Jonathan has to leave. Although he still needs to address a choreographic hole for Lorena at the end of the piece, he feels that today’s refinements took precedent over creating the missing choreography. As he prepares to leave, Jonathan requests that Mandy and Lorena run through the duet one or two more times. In the past, Jonathan has explained that he generally takes a broad strokes approach to his work, sketching the outlines first, then fine-tuning layer by layer. It is so gratifying to reach the point where the dance comes together through its captivating qualitative details!
As Jonathan requested, Lorena and Mandy run through his piece with music, trying to remember all of his spatial changes. This time, though, Sebastian is no longer content to play by himself; he interrupts mom mid-way through the duet. To finish the run-through, Lorena holds Sebastian in her arms and marks through the balance of the dance.
After pausing for a snack, Mandy walks through her solo portion of Lorena’s duet while Sebastian plays with mom.
For a short period of time, Lorena is able to join Mandy, who is creating new material for her piece. The movements are angular and shape-specific, featuring variations on certain positions from the beginning of the solo. Since Lorena’s calf is bothering her, she walks through the new choreography. Before long, however, the calf pain becomes too intense, and Lorena sits down, unable to continue rehearsing.
Sebastian takes advantage of this situation and takes a flying leap on mom. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the final pose of the day!
Sherri Muroff Kalt, founder of Process Portraits, LLC and author of Portrait of an Artistic Journey: The Creative Process in Real Life Context, is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in psychology. She began her career in marketing and sales in New York City with L’Oréal, Monet Jewelers, and Givenchy. READ MORE